Off The Grid…

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What happens when a Food Stalker ends up on a lush private island full of jungle animals in the unspoiled wilds off the coast Mexico? She befriends even the monkeys while on Safari in the open landscape of course! Look, I didn’t intend to spend the day with wildebeest, peacocks, zebra and deer. I thought I’d be adding another layer of sunblock while reading the latest issue of “Delicious” magazine, sipping bubbly truth be told. After a year of traveling, researching and documenting, this huntress was on a mission to escape to a land of beauty and wonder (without technology). A trip to Africa had been on my bucket list for years and when I tell you this was the next best thing, I’m not joking! Remember the film “Out of Africa” with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford? The poetic cinematography alone was well worth the price of admission except Meryl wouldn’t have dashed over a pier in 4 inch Givenchy heels. But that’s how it is when I get that urge. I can still envision the scene with Redford washing Streep’s long locks of hair in the river…be still my beating heart!

My journey took me to a private island ( I could tell you but I’d have to kill you) which is surrounded by a massive lagoon. Majestic and mysterious, even the Duchess of Windsor and her husband made a trip here many years ago. Oh the time they must have had hauling all her trunks from the landing strip to the main residence! The island is now owned by a wonderful family who love the wild land and tranquility. As the story goes, thirty years ago the patriarch of this wonderful family had “Noah’s Ark” in mind when he transported pairs of various exotic animals from all over the world. The end result today is a magical kingdom which words cannot describe.

Life moves at a pace more in harmony with nature here. Sure I started to feel a little out of sorts missing technology, but then stopped, took a deep breath and looked around to marvel at everything in front of me. As twilight falls in the bush you can observe hundreds of animals on the open landscape untouched by human progress. It’s nothing like going to the zoo where the animals are sort of – on demand. This my friends is the real deal. It’s mating season and there were plenty of animals “getting their groove on”. They dance like no ones watching while others prance with skillful finesse. Male peacocks had cool cat swagger with moves like Jagger, flaunting their feathers to attract the females with many walking by as if to say, “Not now dear, I’ve got a headache”! One moment you’d find yourself in the midst of a herd of zebra who are skiddish because perhaps an alligator just tried to attack them and the next you’d find yourself eye to eye with an Iguana. Binoculars? Oh honey, I have a permanent pair in my bag being the Stalker girl that I am. (Ahem, the same ones I used to get an up close and personal look of Anna Wintour at a fashion show). They were perfect for comparing the patterns on zebra to determine which one would make the hottest handbag. Green slimy croc’s in the lagoon, pink flamingos in flight, herds of dancing ostrich, even a baby frog that found his way into the truck all delighted my senses. Well… truth be told, that and an incredible bottle of aged tequila…

Monkeys joined us for lunch, hopping to and fro shrieking with delight over the platter of fresh fish which shimmered in the sunlight like a Dior gown. Shrimp Ceviche, Flan, fresh Papaya, Mexican eggs, Pancakes, homemade Bran muffins with raisins, fresh coconut and salads were graciously prepared by a woman named Ines and fresher than anything even the settlers back in the day could have mustered. Who, by the way can turn even a bowl of lush strawberries into a tropically, mouth-watering experience. Her sensational Mole Chicken with fresh herbs, chocolate, rice and beans…Holy chicken feed! Even my Burberry had a hot flash. No wonder the monkey’s are smiling.  All the comforts of home were laid out for you including animal print PJ’s! Are you kidding? And you ask why I didn’t want to come home? That plane could have gone back empty had it not been for The Blog I tell you..

Let’s just say it was all a big adventure, getting to the boat on the pier. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and even if the boat sank, I was determined to capture it. Once that damn rain stopped and I could take off that bright orange poncho which reminded me of a scene from Jailhouse Rock. The rain poured, life jackets appeared and with one pair of wet binoculars we were off into the sparkling sea to Shell Island. My clothing was soaked to the seams and I’m still missing one Jimmy Choo sandal, but hey, it was worth it.

A surprise bonfire on the point at sunset with a lovely bottle of vino marked our last evening together. Ok, ok, a few bottles! I am eternally grateful to the family who owns the island and their beautiful back to nature daughter who hosted us. This woman could have  the President for lunch and it would be pure perfection. Her class, sense of style and zest for life is infectious. Clearly she loves the wild and it was an experience that bonded us all.

If Meryl had appeared, I wouldn’t have been surprised, perhaps she was on vacation exploring island wilderness. Hey Meryl, look us up next time, we’d love to share stories over a roaring fire. We could compare how to keep the bugs at bay, share fish tales and the best way to remove dirt and dust from in between our toes….

* from the archives 

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With an Italian background, she cites her Mother and grandmother ( Mamie ) as the major influence of her love for food.  Yes, homemade pasta hung from the clothesline in the kitchen and rolling 100 meat balls for a holiday dinner was the norm.  Raised in Pennsylvania. she spent time in Atlanta, Georgia and ultimately settled along the stunning coast of Laguna Beach, Ca. Self taught in everything, she learned to appreciate the amazing flavors, scents and uses for exotic herbs and spices and applies her knowledge to cooking today. Despite enjoying other creative endeavors like painting, photography and clothing design, she realized she would never love another career the way she loves all the stories surrounding food.  And it's capturing those stories that has not only become her greatest passion but a culinary drug worth passing around!  After all, food is a shared experience and no one better to share it with than the entire world. And thus the Food Stalker was born, utilizing all that passion and her fearlessness to capture even the most impossible stories. It's one thing to write about food, but far more exciting to actually capture it and all those stories that make every scent come to life.  And once she sets out, there's no stopping her, because no one follows that scent better than her---and no telling where she'll end up next.  

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